As a certified therapy dog, Jonny Justice -- one of Michael Vick's former dogs -- participated in Paws for Tales, a reading to dogs program overseen by the Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA. But Patricia Harding, a librarian in Burlingame, Calif., banned pit bulls from coming to her library. Jonny and his human partner, Cris Cohen, hadn't participated at that library yet, but another Paws for Tales pit bull reading team was kicked out.
When Cohen pointed out to the city that this violated a California code that prohibits cities from enacting policies and programs that restrict dogs based on breed, the city conceded that the library couldn't keep its new breed discriminatory policy. Instead, they cancelled the reading program.
Reading aloud to dogs has been shown to improve children's reading skills by 12 percent, in addition to improving self-confidence and overall engagement in school. It also helps adults learning English and, in Burlingame, people with a fear of dogs used the program as a way to overcome their phobia in a safe library environment.
But Burlingame's community no longer gets any of these benefits ... all because a librarian didn't like the way some dogs look.
Tell Burlingame to reinstate a reading to dogs program at its public library, welcoming all breeds.
Photo credit: Eric Risberg